Letters to the Editor, November 22, 2017

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 November, 2017, 4:26pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 November, 2017, 4:26pm

Education best way to reduce plastic waste

Some environmentalists in Hong Kong want a citywide ban on the sale of water in disposable plastic bottles.

While I agree that this kind of plastic is extremely harmful to the environment, I do not think that a total ban is practical.

Most people use a great deal of plastic in their lives. When we order a takeaway meal it is in a styrofoam lunchbox and we are given plastic utensils.

We also drink bottled water, and so it is difficult to imagine being without disposable plastic items. A complete ban on their use would not be feasible.

Many citizens would not be pleased if such a ban were put in place and therefore resist it. If fast-food restaurants had other kinds of containers that were biodegradable but more expensive, customers would probably have to pay extra and would not be happy about this.

We need to find long-term solutions so that people gradually change their bad habits. Education is key and the message must be got across to ­people about the need for everyone in Hong Kong to try and ­reduce their use of plastic.

Sirius Kong Tin-long, Tsuen Wan

Government is showing the way on greed

Earlier this month, the government sold a parcel of land in Cheung Sha Wan for a record HK$17.28 billion.

It will be developed into 1,200 luxury flats, with a minimum price of HK$27,000 per square foot. Grade A offices and a five-star hotel are also planned for the area.

How are we to take seriously the government’s claims that it is committed to tackling the housing crisis, when actions contradict words?

Does Hong Kong need a five-star hotel, luxury flats, and offices more than it needs affordable housing? The problem with rising home prices starts with the price of land. Our government is the initial catalyst in this crisis, when it sells land to the highest bidder to line its coffers, without returning this profit back to the people of Hong Kong, where it is needed most.

The Cheung Sha Wan land could have provided a significant supply of new affordable housing. Instead, the government has, once again, through pure greed, pushed up property prices far beyond what most people can afford.

There appears to be no end in sight for the property bubble when the government just wants more money in the bank.

Certainly the element of monetary greed in Hong Kong, which the world recognises, is one of our least attractive characteristics, and the government is out front and centre leading the greed charge.

Simon Constantinides, Pok Fu Lam

Housing crisis highlights the rich-poor gap

A survey has revealed that some of Hong Kong’s poorest live in subdivided flats that are about the same size as prison cells.

This illustrates how serious the housing problem has ­become in Hong Kong, where people make do with living space that is no larger than that provided to a prisoner.

Our housing problem highlights the disparity between the rich and the poor. And with a knowledge-based economy, that gap is getting wider.

People with a low level of education cannot get a job with a decent wage. Even in these tiny units, tenants still have to pay high rents.

This problem of severe poverty has been with us for a long time and the government has tried to help these people with different allowances and subsidies. But such measures just provide short-term assistance.

Officials need to devise an ­effective long-term strategy, which should include ensuring a decent supply of ­affordable housing. The serious housing problem is the most urgent issue facing the government.

Mandy Li Minying, Kowloon Tong

Higher charge at emergency units justified

While I understand Sandy Chan’s objections to the ­increase in public hospital emergency unit charges, from HK$100 to HK$180 (“Hospital fee hike has hurt the grass roots”, November 20), we need to look at this from a wider perspective.

Your correspondent fears the fee rise will mean people on low incomes may not seek medical help when they need it. But the aim of the increase is to stop people from going to these units if it is not a medical emergency.

Instead, they should visit public outpatient clinics. This would ease overcrowding at ­emergency units.

While I back the fee rise, I also think it is important that the additional revenue earned by the government is used wisely.

This gives it additional funds to improve public health services in various areas and provide better service to patients.

I understand the criticism, but it made sense to increase the fee at emergency rooms.

Venus Tse, Sha Tin

Teach children that pets must be treasured

I agree with correspondents who have called for a special ­police unit to deal with cases of cruelty against animals. At the same time, the government should introduce a policy of sterilising stray animals.

If we see a reduction in the stray animal population, there may be a reduction in some cases of cruelty.

Some animal rights groups want tougher punishment for people found guilty of abuse.

I also back greater education as an effective way to get people to change their mindset on the treatment of animals.

This should start in school, so that children realise from an early age that it is important to respect animals and recognise the responsibilities that come with pet ownership. If they grow up with the right attitude, we will see fewer pets being abandoned and becoming strays.

The message must get through to adults to think carefully before adopting a pet, ­because it is a ­long-term commitment. Also, I agree with the rights groups that the punishment for animal cruelty is too lenient and courts must get tougher with perpetrators.

Polly Yeung, Tai Wai